If your into photography I think you will enjoy this one. Keith is one hell of a photographer. If you are on the east coast you are probably real firmiliar with his work. I have learned photographers are just as busy as the pros who are riding the bikes. Enjoy, and leave Keith some love in the comments! Also, I had to resize a lot of the pictures in this. So if you want to see them in their original full size you can check them out on Ride-Li.com.
Keith Michael Romanowski
Long Island, NY
Sponsors at all?
No, but if Canon wanted to put me on flow I wouldnt complain.
About 10 years
Years shooting photos:
Its been about 4 years now.
“I was diging around my hard drives and i found this jem. This is first BMX photo i ever took. Patryk Loszewski – 2004”
What was it that originally got you into BMX and what keeps your attention today?
It was the summer of 1998 and I was at my cousin house upstairs helping move something. At the time my cousin Adam was into a whole bunch of different sports. He mentioned to me that he found out that his neighbor rode bmx. I had no idea what it was. He told me it had to do with people doing dirt jumps on bikes. It sounded pretty cool to me and Adam invited me to go to the local Shorman bmx track to go check it. It was a sunday afternoon and the second I got there I just thought it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen, and I had to get a bike asap. I remember that day like it happened yesterday. A week later I got my Free Agent chrome Eluder and I was hooked ever since.
“A few months ago i headed over to Mexico with the Sunday Crew. This was one of my favorite photos from the trip. Right before i shot the photo a bum that was living under the bridge begged me to not shoot a photo of him, becuase he dident want anyone to know where he was living. Kurt Rasmusson barspin gap.”
When I first started riding progression was super important to me. All I wanted to do was get good. Basiclly my goal was to learn x ups, tables, and turndowns. I can do them all now. And as time when on and I got into photogarphy that slowly became more of a priority to me. The concept of progression in bmx isent as important to me as it was before. now it just hanging out with friends and shooting photos and simply having a good time.
How about with photography, what got you into that?
I was in 10th grade and I slowly found out how much I liked doing graphic design. I started out doing cd covers for fun and worked my way into doing various digital art. And it came to the point I wanted to mix photographs into my work, but I always felt bad stealing photos off the web. I always felt it wasn’t going to be 100% orginal then. At that time it was 2004 and my parents got a consumer digital camera and at the time it was one of the best. So they started to let me use their camera. And of course bmx being such a big part in my life already it was only natural for me to start shooting that. And as years progressed I just got more and more into it, and the bag got bigger and bigger.
“When i have the free time i really like to draw typography. It typicaly has a heavy graffiti influence, and helps serve as a way to relax. Addie is the name of my girlfriend.”
The scene from where you live is filled with pros and talented riders. Do you feel like you have an advantage when it comes to riding and having people to shoot photos for over other people?
I live roughly and hour and a half from NYC, so unfortunetly its not just around the corner for me. But i dont mind driving and head over to the city pretty often. As far as being a successfull photography location is key, but more important is how you apply yourself. Also there is the artist and business man, and you cant have one without the other. I personaly dont feel like i have an advantage over anyone else, it just takes a lot of works wherever you are.
“I really dont like it when people lurk in the photo when im trying a take a picture. I tryed to get these kids to move, but they dident understand a word i said. Even though all these people are in the photo it turned out much better then i thought. Aaron Ross 360 whip to fakie in Mexico.”
Out of all of those people who are your favorite to ride, with and who are your favorite to shoot photos of?
Many times riders get caught up and see a photoshoot as an opportunity to make money and its strickly business. Which is understandable, becuase everyone needs to eat. But at the same time it can be fun and it nice to see when people are greatfull you are spending your time shooting with them. So those are the people that I like shooting photos with. Just a relexed fun time.
“I think photo was shot in 2003, before i was even into photography. This is a picture of me in my backyard back when I had dreads.”
Out of all the places you have had the chance to ride and shoot photos at, where are your favorites?
Well first of all I love NYC, I haven’t seen the world yet but I can easily say that NYC is one of the best cities in the world. It really is a great city to shoot at. Also I recently came back from Mexcio and that was a great time. Just getting to shoot in a new country is always inspiring.
“sometimes the simplest tricks look the best. Here James Carlucci aka Maria does a boost over one of the best spots ever made.”
Where are some places you would really like to go to at some point in time? Do you have any trips planned anytime soon?
I really want to go to Australia, and have wanted to go for a real long time. It just seems so interesting to me. But other then that i would be happy to go anywhere outside the US. Im going to San Francisco at the end of the week, which should be real fun. I was there last summer and had a great time.
“Before i was even into photogarphy i was really into graphic design. This is just an abstract peice i made back in 2004.”
Being in places that isn’t exactly the safest place, have you ever or do you ever worry about getting jumped and having your gear jacked?
It is always in the back of my mind, and its good to never get to comfortable wherever you are. luckly im a pretty big guy so im sure that helps a little.
What is your current set-up of all your camera gear?
Right now I shoot with the canon eos 20d, a 17-40mm lens, 10-17mm fisheye, a 85mm lens, sunpak 544 flash, sunpak 622 flash, lumedyne 400 watts action kit, pocket wizard and a ton of batteries.
“Last summer while filming for the Come Up DVD Seth Kimbrough came to Philadelphia. It was a 7 day trip and this photo turned out to be my favorite one.”
What is your dream set-up?
My dream set up would invovle a team of slaves carrying around my equipment from spot to spot. It would consist of a bunch of profoto flashes and the Hasselblad H3DII-50. and crew of bodyguards wherever I go.
When was your first photo published and who or what was it of?
The first photo published was of my friend Frank Juliano doing a feeble stall to fakie at the Brooklyn banks in issue 131 of Ride BMX. And it was printed as a two page spread, I was really siked.
“Boston’s Matty Long came to Long Island in the beginning of the year. He boosted this not so perfect cement quater higher then anyone has ever done.”
Do you work at all or is being a photographer paying the bills?
I work at Marlo Graphics where I do embroidery and thats a part time job and the rest of my time I spend shooting photos. So I have two sources of income.
Did you go to school for photography at all or was it just self taught?
I took 2 black and white photogarphy classes in college, and I feel like I learned a little bit about the technical aspects of photography. I always feel that experince is way more important then sitting in a seat for 4 years.
“This is another peice from a few years ago. Its an abstract design with “Ride-LI” incorporated.”
Who are some photographers you look up to and influence you?
I really like Dolecki, Jeff Z, and Peiringer’s work and I have had the honor to meet them all. But recently I have been looking outside of bmx to find inspiration and it has been helping me thing outside the box.
You run the website Ride-Li.com, how long has that been up for and what can people find there?
I started Ride-LI right when I started shooting photos. So it has been up for about 4 years now. It also has served a way for me to progress in web design, it forced me to learn more and more about hmtl and flash. It started out as a local scene site where it was just photos of friends riding trails and street. Now it is more of a portfolio site that really needs to get updated!
What do you think you would be up to if you never got involved with BMX and photography?
Well I really love art, so I would probably be heavily into graphic design. More then likely web design.
Outside of riding and taking photos, what are you up to?
Well I really like working on the computer and doing artwork. I also like drawing type with a graffiti influence. Other then that just hanging out with my girlfriend.
If you could see any band live, who would you want to see and why?
Bob Marley. I have always loved reggae, there is something about it that just feels good to lissen to. And Bob being a huge fan of mine I would love to see him play live.
I imagine you have had some run ins with cops/security/homeless people/angry pedestrians in your day. Lets hear some stories?
This wasn’t out riding but this is the most recent funny thing that happened. While out on Megatour we stayed at this girl Cakes place in midtown Manhattan. We where having a small party there and Cakes got really drunk and started to throw empty beer bottles out the window (15 floors up) and one thing lead to the other and the cops came and arrested everyone there (about 10 total). So we all go the local police station and get put in a holding cell. After about 2 hours of being there some crazy person comes in wearing a very revealing clothing. So the first thing that comes to mind is she is a prostitute. So we start talking to her and she tells us that she was caught selling sex. And on top of that she says that for some reason on the paper work they write down that she was a he. So we quickly put two and two together and realize it was a transvestite… she or should I say he was really drunk or high on something and evently showed us his man breasts. We were all siked at first and then quickly went to being grossed out. We were in jail for 22 hours total, but atleast we left with a pretty good story.
“I love this photo just for the simple fact that the colors match so well. Oba Stanley gap to smith.”
You and Adam22 from The Come Up are pretty good friends. Any embarrassing stories you can let us in on?
Ive got a ton of embarrassing stories, but i dont know if he really wants me to put them out there. But we all know that YOU MO!
You find $5000 on the ground, what do you spend it on?
Buy a new car. My 1989 chevy caprice has seen better days. and paying 80 bucks to fill up the tank isn’t fun.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what are some things you would like to accomplish?
I really want to be a fashion photography. Not only do I like shooting with people but there is a ton of money in it as well. I also really want to move out to brooklyn or queens somewhere closer to NYC. I really love it there.
If you could be capable of any talent, what would it be and why?
The abilty to fly. it not so much a talent but super power. Beacuse it beats walking.
“This was taken in a abandoned hydroelectric plant for a Fox photoshoot. This place was huge, and it was so inspiring to shoot in there due the the unique atmosphere. Here Russ Barone hops over an old barrel, while avoiding falling through the floor.”
What is the key to success with the ladies?
Buy them swedish fish and sour skittles.
Seen any good movies lately?
I just saw the movie “The Happening”, it is a super good movie. I also saw the movie “the blindness” last week and it was another one of those worst movies ever. So spare yourself and dont see it.
What does BMX need less of and what could it use more of?
Less drama and more money.
“This was taken during the Fit East Coast trip. Here Shawn Garrett is on the top of a apartment in downtown NYC and enjoying that coffee way to much.”
What kind of advice do you have for kids looking to get into photography and maybe turn it into a career?
There is the artist and the business man, and you can’t have one without the other. Applying yourself and having the determination will help you get far. You also need some deep pockets, because it isn’t cheap. Making friends in high places doesn’t hurt either.
Anything else you would like to say?
You only live once.